Exploring Gifted Kid Burnout
Gifted kid burnout affects many smart kids and former gifted students who were once in gifted programs. As young adults, they often share a common theme of feeling burnt out and struggling with unrealistic expectations. The pressure to always achieve gold star grades and be at the top of the class can be overwhelming.
Gifted programs, often found in grade schools and even at the national level, focus on high achievement and a fixed trait of being “gifted.” But what happens when these young adults, who were once in gifted classes and AP classes, are faced with the reality of adult life and the expectations of society? They may struggle with a lack of motivation and a harmful perfectionism that can lead to chronic stress.
This phenomenon, known as “gifted kid burnout,” was first identified by Professor Carol Dweck, author of “Mindsets,” and has been studied by the National Association for Gifted Children. It is a result of the fixed trait mindset that is often placed on gifted children, believing that their intelligence and abilities are innate and cannot be improved upon. This belief leads to unrealistic expectations and a lack of emphasis on the development of a growth mindset and good study habits.
Manifestation of Gifted Kid Burnout
This burnout can manifest in a variety of ways, such as a lack of motivation, harmful perfectionism, and chronic stress. For twice exceptional adults, who also have a neurodivergent condition, the experience can be even more challenging as they may have unique sources of stress in their daily lives and emotional needs.
School systems and the current educational environment may contribute to this issue. Gifted education programs and advanced classes may not always take into account the social-emotional needs and unique sources of stress for these students. This can lead to lack of study habits and a type of mindset that is not sustainable in the long-term, resulting in burnout.
Our guest today is Cate Osburn, also known as Catieosaurus on social media. She is an ADHD educator, a certified sex educator, and a disability advocate. Cate will share her personal experience with burnout as a twice exceptional adult and discuss her journey to finding balance and harmony in her passions and interests. Cate will also talk about how her experience in a gifted program, advanced classes, and the pressure to achieve good results in school led to unhealthy coping mechanisms and a lack of motivation in her daily life. We hope that her story will be a first step in understanding the experience of gifted kid burnout and the unique challenges faced by twice exceptional adults.
Giftedness * Identity * Intensity * Neurodivergence * Positive Disintegration * Relationships * Self Care * Self Regulation * Twice Exceptionality
In this episode:
- Cate Osborne, also known as Catieosaurus, is an ADHD educator and advocate, as well as a disability advocate who focuses on the connection between neurodiversity and sex and intimacy in relationships.
- Cate splits her time evenly between her interests in ADHD and inclusivity in tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, making a career out of connecting seemingly unrelated things that overlap or are related.
- Cate’s personal brand of intensity results in burnout and struggles with balancing intensity of passion as a full-time content creator discussing serious topics like mental health, sex, and intimacy.
- Cate’s struggle with intensity is heightened as a neurodivergent person with ADHD and recently diagnosed with autism, and Difficulty in achieving balance is a myth, instead it’s about finding harmony.
- Cate’s intensity in childhood was characterized by intense curiosity and ADHD contributed to an interest in trying new things and having different hobbies. Cate’s hobbies can be valuable in learning and leading to change in one’s life.
- Cate started talking about the experience of being a gifted kid who is now burned out because of the pressure to always be the best.
- Aurora and Cate discuss how giftedness is often associated with being successful, but it can also result in burnout.
- Cate struggled with mixed messages about her self-worth and value as a gifted student growing up, and placed a lot of her self-worth in her academic success and being involved in activities and clubs.
- Cate’s tendencies switched over to unhealthy coping mechanisms like people pleasing and perfectionism once she left school and had to start “living a life.”
From Burnout to Brilliance: Conquer Burnout and Truly Thrive w/ Zarya Rubin, MD
Are you a smart, passionate person struggling with chronic stress and burnout? Do you have an endless to-do list, taking care of everyone’s needs but your own? Has your physical and mental health started to suffer to the point where you are constantly exhausted, irritable, not sleeping well, uninspired, and frazzled? Do you want to make a change in 2023 so you don’t keep falling back into the same cycle of burnout, take a short break that isn’t restorative, and back into burnout again? Join us for this free webinar with Dr. Zarya Rubin, MD!
* Rough Transcript *
Aurora: So I decided to break the 1 episode a month rule this month to share my interview with Catieosaurus because 1 – she’s objectively a big deal, and 2 – I wanted to take this opportunity to share our upcoming speaker season for 2023! I’m still working out the details, and some information is tentative, but the first two are on my event calendar at: embracingintensity.com/events
Embracing Intensity 2023 Speakers
Jan 28 – Zarya Rubin – Burnout to Brilliance
Feb 18 – Zaakira Demba – Seeing Life Through a Different Lens
Mar 18 – Catiosaurus – Neurodivergent Intimacy
Apr 15 – Rukshana Triem – Never Leave the Playground
May 20- Arianna Bradford – ADHD Productivity
July15/Aug 19 – Julia Wild – Writers Workshop
Sept 16 – Marc Almodovar Jr. – Neurodivergent leadership
Oct 21- Melanie Hayes – Twice Exceptionality
Nov 11 – Aurora – Neurodivergent Labels
You can get login details and reminders by signing up for my free resource library at: embracingintensity.com/free-resources, or find them in the Embracing Intensity Community! One of the things I love about Cate’s videos is that it always feels like you’re having a conversation with her, so it was a special treat to be able to actually be in the same virtual room!
Aurora: Welcome to Embracing Intensity Today. I am so super thrilled to have Catieosaurus here who I first got to know on TikTok and then followed on all the other platforms, and I know she’s been much more active on those as well. So welcome!
Cate: Hello. Thank you so much for having me.
Aurora: And as I was saying a little bit earlier that I think you probably ranked one of my top. Exciting guests to have on the show, but I’m
Aurora: like super burnt out this week, so I’m like mentally super excited, but…
Cate: That is, that’s okay. I like I was telling you, I don’t mind telling your listeners I’m in the middle of switching antidepressants and I am not having a good time, so we can just have a very like low energy chill podcast experience.
I’m here for this. I think this will be good. This is good.
Aurora: Totally. Well, and I found the last time I almost canceled an interview cuz I was exhausted. It actually came out more energized. So,
Cate: right? We’ll just like, we’ll just transfer energy back and forth. It’ll be amazing.
Passionate Neurodiversity Advocate
Aurora: Yeah. Awesome. So, tell me a little bit about yourself and what you are intensely passionate about.
Cate: Oh gosh. So, my name is Cate Osborne. I go by Catieosaurus on all of the social medias where I am an A D H D educator and advocate. I am a disability advocate as well. And I got my start on TikTok, talking about sort of just ADHD. But then very, sort of quickly I realized that the thing that I am most passionate about and the thing that I love talking about is the connection between Neurodivergency, and how it interacts with sex and intimacy and relationships.
And I do want you to know that I’m very proud that I didn’t just go sex is what I’m passionate about, cuz I was trying really hard to avoid that. And so, I, I got there, I got there in the end. I’m proud of that one. So that was good. But yeah, so that’s what I do.
I’m a certified sex educator. And I. Do a lot of stuff about sex and intimacy and neurodivergency. And I also advocate for disability and inclusivity in TT RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons and like that kind of thing. So, I always say I split my time 50 50 just between two very different types of Dungeons
I wasn’t proud of that joke. Sorry. You can edit it out. It’s fine.
Aurora: no, it’s hilarious. And I know a lot of people who do. So,
Cate: right? The Venn diagram is a stack of pancakes. That’s why I was able to make a career of this. So, it’s fine.
Aurora: I know, and you look at seemingly unrelated things that are very clearly related, so
Aurora: or at least overlap so,
Intensity & Burnout
Aurora: So, tell me about a bit more about your own personal brand of intensity. What does intensity look like for you in your life?
Cate: Oh man, I love that question because I’m currently talking about this a lot with my therapist because what I have learned is that for me, intensity looks like burnout.
And so that has been something that I’ve really struggled with. Because becoming a full-time content creator is really interesting, especially when you are talking about, you know, very serious things like mental health, sex and intimacy and that kind of stuff. Because I don’t wanna speak for the group, but at least in my experience what I have found is that, The intensity that I find, what I love to do, it also is about making, it is also about creating, you know, you have to make the video, you have to make the content, you have to respond to the email, you have to respond to the dm.
And so what winds up happening is it’s very easy to allow the intensity of that passion to sort of transfer into the idea that you have to do more and more and more and more and more and more. Then, That can get very unhealthy very quickly. So, intensity is something that I actually struggle with a lot as a neurodivergent person.
I have ADHD and I also very recently learned that I am also autistic, which makes a lot of sense because the hyper fixation and special interest are real. but those interests and, and those passions can get so intense and I, all I wanna do is learn. All I wanna do is talk about it.
The Myth of Balance
That can, it can be difficult to achieve balance, I think is, is my answer to that today.
Aurora: Mm-hmm. Totally. And I think, you know, one of the things looking at when you have so many different passions and interests and having to be selective in what you take on, even though you could be excited about many more, is that balance doesn’t actually exist.
Cate: yeah, it’s a myth
Aurora: it’s really about harmony.
Cate: I’m pretty sure.
Aurora: But it’s, you know, I think if you, if you can find harmony, then that’s great. You know? I like that.
Aurora: Comparison of balance between balance and harmony. so how do you think your intensity affected you growing up?
Cate: Oh, man. I think the thing that I like most about myself, is that I have always been an intensely curious person.
And because of my ADHD I have been intensely curious about a lot of things. And I’m one of those people whose, you know, hobby is having different hobbies and trying new things. Month to month, week to week, whatever. But in a weird way, I always say, that all of those passions, all of those interests, all of those things that I was intensely excited to learn about, whether I stuck with it for a month or years they always kind of seemed to find their way back to me, you know?
Like for instance, I got really interested in sewing and costume design. And then after high school, one of my first jobs was working in bridal alterations. But out of working in bridal Alterations. I was able to get a really good job in a costume shop. So, then I went back to costuming, and then I went to grad school for Shakespeare because that was another, special interest of mine.
And then while in grad school for Shakespeare, I was in charge of the costume shop because I had worked in bridal alteration, you know what I mean? So, it was that kind of thing where I think so many people can discount the power of curiosity and the power of, just being really interested in something.
And I always say, it’s okay if you wanna be interested in it for a week or the rest of your life, but you’re going to learn something and you’re gonna take something out of that passion and that curiosity that can really lead to, changing your life, you know? And I think that’s really, So my answer is hobbies I think. Really crushing this interview today. We’re doing a great job.
Aurora: Yeah, well no totally.
Cate: Meanderingly get to the point.
Aurora: Well that’s the nature of these interviews usually. It’s probably 80%, 80 to 90% are, 80 h ADHD, and a hundred percent are probably neuro divergent.
But I can totally like, we’re. Going through that right now with my spouse, because we just moved from this 38-acre property that took all their time and now they’re trying to like figure out what’s next. But they’ve been artisan Baker in Germany opened restaurants and studied fashion design and all these different things.
And same thing, like every time, any interest will dive deep and hard and master it. Then when you’re like going back out in the job market, like what do you do with this?
Cate: Yeah, my resume looks like a joke. like, it looks like I’m trolling. What I like put my like actual resume on paper and people are like, what is this?
I’m like, no, that’s, that’s my job history. It’s, it’s fine. Don’t worry about it.
Aurora: Totally. So, part of how I found you was through your content around gifted burnout and twice exceptionality. And so, I’m curious how your experience of that was growing up and moving into adulthood.
Cate: Yeah, so. It’s really interesting how much that label, I think was both a pro and a con.
And it very much defined me, you know, I was gifted, I was special, I was, I don’t wanna say better than everybody else, but boy did they, do you walk a fine line with that, in some programs. But the other thing was that I was great at school. And again, I think that really goes back to like my passion and my interest in things is that I would just get really interested.
In, you know, what we were talking about. And so, I would go home and I would do, you know, my own deep dives and I would read, always way more than I was supposed to. And so, I. Really flew under the radar with my neurodivergency. For your listeners who don’t know, I was diagnosed with A D H D the day before my 30th birthday.
So, I’ve only really had a formal diagnosis for about four years now. And so being this highly successful, academically successful kid who was, you know, the straight A student who was involved in every club and every activity and was also a star athlete and on and on and on. But at the same time, struggling with this sort of like bare minimum stuff of like, I would forget to shower, I would forget to brush my teeth.
I would forget to go to the bathroom. My room was never clean. It had never been cleaned once in my entire life, you know? And I remember teachers would, get upset if, you know, the material didn’t catch my interest. I would get the note home, Kate just needs to apply yourself, and I would hear from my parents all the time, you know, like, you’re so good at school, you get straight As. You’re the most responsible student. You’re the best student in the whole school. Why can’t you just keep your room clean? And now it’s like, well, mom, because those are two separate executive functions, you know?
Cate: but growing up, I was getting these very mixed messages about who I was and who I was supposed to be. And so, I really, I think, placed a lot of my self-worth, and I placed a lot of my value in that sort of academic success. You know, if I couldn’t keep my room clean, at least I could be great at school.
At least I could be the star student. At least I could be involved, you know, be the president of every club. And that worked, that worked for a really long time. And it worked all the way up through grad school you know, where I really would just throw all of my time, all of my energy, all of my effort, all of my investment in academics.
But then ultimately you have to either decide to stay in school for forever, which I tried, I tried so hard, you know, but ultimately you do have to sort of like start living a life. And that is when I think a lot of those tendencies tend to switch over to things like people pleasing and perfectionism and sort of like the more unhealthy coping mechanisms of like, well, I’m not getting the accolades anymore for the Straight As and, you know, writing the best paper.
Loss of Identity
So, who am I? What am I you know, like, how do I relate to this sort of like, new existence? And that was really hard for me. It was really hard for me to do. And so, one of the big things that I kind of started talking about was that experience of being, like a gifted kid who is now just burned out because you pour your heart, your soul, your time, your energy and your investment to being the best. Being the best of being the best, being the best. And then it’s hard to be the best at going to the grocery store. You know, you just gotta do that sometimes.
Aurora: Mm-hmm. Yeah, totally. And it’s so, you know, I think it’s so hard because it’s hard to talk about giftedness without sounding elitist in some way, but it’s also important that we talk about it because a lot of people who refer to themselves in the past, they’ll say, I was gifted or I was a gifted kid. And it’s not like it hasn’t changed. They’re still gifted, but they associate it with that achievement.
Cate: Yeah, exactly.
Aurora: So, when, when you stop producing, it’s very, it’s a very capitalistic kind of perception of giftedness, right? When you stop producing, you think you’re no longer smart. But it’s not about that. It’s about, you know, needing that challenge, that mental challenge, but having a hard time with the basic stuff and it doesn’t make you feel very smart when you can’t do those basic things.
Cate: Yeah. And I think honestly, like how that burnout shows up in people’s lives is also part of the conversation.
Cate: you know, like a big one is the joke that I talk about all the time is like, when’s the last time you read a book? You know? Because like for so many gifted kids, it’s like, all we did was read. We read and we read and we read and we read. And especially for, like neuro divergent kids, like there’s also that sort of like hyper alexia component.
And then, you know, you get outta grad school and you’re like, I will never look at another book ever again. Like, it took me years to read a book for pleasure to just allow myself the experience of like, I don’t have to read this. Schedule. I don’t have to get done at any certain amount of time. There’s not gonna be a quiz on it.
I don’t have to be embarrassed if I need to go back and read a page again. I’m just gonna read this book, you know? And it took me a couple of years to really get back to that. I think that’s part of it because it’s like there’s that association with that sort of like production and that sort of achievement.
And so, it’s really easy to conflate burnout with like, I don’t wanna say losing intelligence, but like losing that sort of sense. You know, losing that sense of like, oh, I am smart. I can read a book in a night or whatever.
Also, I was raised in the Midwest and the idea of like actually admitting that yes, I am intelligent and I’m aware of it, is like unheard of. Like, you don’t say that. You would never say that out loud. And so, having that conversation is also really difficult for me because I feel like then you have to just be like, well, I’m very smart. But I know that I am, you know, and I know that, and I can sort of demonstratively prove that, she said as she mispronounces a big word, in a hilarious twist of irony.
But you know, like, so it’s that kind of thing where it’s hard to talk about because I think there’s also just a, well, you don’t, you can’t say that about yourself. That’s terribly rude, you know?
Aurora: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. Yet we can talk about people’s athletic prowess or any other, you know, big talents or gifts or skills that people have.
Cate: Yeah, exactly.
Aurora: So, do you think there were any cultural factors? You already kinda mentioned growing up in the Midwest, so do you think there were any cultural factors that affected how you expressed yourself?
Cate: Oh God. Yeah. I mean, I grew up, I went to Catholic school all the way through college. And so, there was a lot of messaging and a lot of Purity culture stuff that was really ingrained into me.
And part of that had to do with, you know, like I wasn’t smart. It wasn’t because of me, it wasn’t because of my hard work, It wasn’t because of what I was doing It was because God blessed me. You know, it was, it was God’s doing, it was Jesus’s doing. And so, like there was not a lot of value placed in the actual accomplishment of me.
It was often like, well, you should thank God that, you know, you’re so smart and like, you know, God’s blessed you with these gifts. And I was like, great. But you know, God isn’t studying for my math test. Like what are we, you know, what is this? And similarly, you know, just a lot of the attitudes around, women and that kind of thing.
And frankly, sex. Like, cuz now, like that’s what I do for my job is I talk about sex and intimacy. You know, but a lot of the very toxic, very like, pervasive ideas about sex and intimacy and what they should be and what they should look like and the appropriate way to conduct oneself. A lot of that is really ingrained in a culture that does not value, I’m trying to choose my words very carefully, but like girls have to cover their shoulders because they’re leading the boys astray, you know? And so, what do you do when the smartest kid in class is a girl? You know? Like there’s a lot of like downplaying that happens.
Culture of Modesty
There’s a lot of apologizing that happens. And there’s a lot of, I think, uplifting of like the male voice and the importance of, you know, this like male led relationship. When in reality I think like intelligence doesn’t discriminate by, you know, any of the genders that exist. And so, that was a big part of it too, was sort of figuring out like, well, how do, where do I fall in this sort of like hierarchy of value placed on things like my virginity and like my sexuality and that kind of stuff.
And then just like the audacity to even talk about sex. It’s like, oh my. Like, I literally went from, I was going to be a nun. That’s a thing that like not a lot of people know about me. My career plan for like most of junior high and high school was I was gonna go and go into a convent and become a nun.
And now I talk about sex on the internet and I have an only fan. So, you know, there’s some shifts that happened there somewhere along the line.
Toning Down & Tuning Out
Aurora: that is a very interesting tidbit of information. That’s awesome. So, did you ever try to tone yourself down or tune yourself out?
Cate: Oh my God, yes. All the time. All the time. And since I started making content which has only been for a couple of years now, I think it’s really the first time that I’ve really started thinking about like how much I do that or how much I did that.
Cuz I’m, cuz I’m working to unlearn it. But all the time, I mean all the time it was. Kind of that idea of, you know, downplaying my accomplishments, apologizing for my accomplishments, excusing my accomplishments away as a fluke or an accident, you know, just all of those, like imposter syndrome, kind of like things that we talk about.
And yeah, I would do that all the time because it was, Weird to constantly be the kid who, you know, finished their test first or got the perfect score on the ACT or like, whatever, you know, they’re like these quote unquote accomplishments. It’s like, no. And I, I would, I still say, I was like, yeah, I’m really good at standardized tests.
And I’m like, I am. It’s like a weird skillset that I have. Thanks Autism. You know, I would always just like sort of downplay, I spent so much time downplaying and now as a content creator who’s self-employed, and it’s my job to sort of like promote myself. It’s really hard for me. It’s really hard to like look at a brand and be like, hundreds of millions of people have seen my content.
Afraid to Brag
That is true. That is, you can measure it. There are analytics that exist that I can look at that number and say, here’s how many hundred million people looked at my content. But I still feel like I’m like, oh, is that like braggy? Is that like self-important to say hundreds of millions? Maybe I should just say millions.
You know, I’ll just say millions, but I’ll like add the hashtag so then that way they can like, look it up and, and I’m like, no, just say, like, Kate, what are you doing? And so, I find myself doing that all the time and I really have to stop and I really have to think about like, okay, like why are you downplaying it?
Are you, is it because you’re embarrassed of your success? Is it because you feel awkward highlighting it? Like, where is this coming from? A lot of that has to do with sort of that learned culture of apologizing and deflecting that I grew up in, I think.
Aurora: Yeah, totally. You know, it was funny, I just was thinking about when I first started in the blogging and stuff about giftedness, and I avoided the term for a long time because I just didn’t, you know, I focused on the excitability piece and the intensity piece.
Yeah. But that’s also true of all neurodivergence or most but I remember years ago when I met my spouse on I was on OkCupid, and they have, you can see what, which ones of your answers they didn’t like. Yeah. And one was about intelligence. Like, are you smarter than most people?
Of course, I said yes because it’s objectively true. I have the numbers, like I test IQs for a living, like that’s one of my main jobs. So, like I know this to be a fact. So, it was just funny because my spouse also is in that category as well. But it was just that idea that I, I actually said it out loud.
Cate: Yeah. I mean, the thing that I always struggle with too is like, there’s so many different kinds of intelligence, you know?
Cate: And like that to me is always like, I never wanted anybody, cuz I’m like, I’m an amazing reader. I’m an amazing writer. I’m garbage at math, I have dyscalculia.
It’s really difficult for me. Math is really hard. And fundamentally, and it’s really funny because I went on this weird kick last year of like, I’m gonna relearn math. I’m gonna learn math as an adult, I’m gonna do it again. What I realized is that fundamentally, the foundational knowledge that about math is that I cannot get the whys that I want to like contextualize the rest of math around it.
Nobody up to this point has been able to successfully explain to me why one plus one equals two. And like, I can’t get the why, and I just want that why? And I keep going, okay, but why? Okay, but why? And then they’re like, because, because one is one and it equals two. Like, just shut up and, and I’m like, no, I need that. Why?
Many ways to be gifted
But like, so I’m garbage at math, and so, if you’re testing me in math, you’re gonna be like, oh wow, she’s an idiot. You know? But if you test me on Shakespeare, like, how long do you have, you know? How much yelling do you want to involve in this argument?
And so, like I always have this like weird association with the idea of giftedness, because it’s like there are a lot of gifted artists who are bad at writing and bad at math, and they don’t get asked to be in the gifted programs, but they’re a better artist than I’ll ever be. They’re better architects, you know, like that kind of thing?
And so that’s one of the things that I really struggle with, like when we have these conversations, is how do we actually measure giftedness in a way that doesn’t exclude that sort of capitalistic, like, oh, well what are you good at that’s gonna benefit, you know, the, the, the man.
Cate: And that’s hard for me. It’s really hard for me cuz I know so many, you know, I know a lot of circus people. You know, I, I know a lot of people who are. Yeah. They might be terrible writers, but they can literally bend over backwards like that. I can’t do that, you know, it’s like, I don’t know. It’s just, I really struggle with it sometimes as a concept because of that.
Aurora: Yeah, totally. I know what you mean because like my sister who’s three years older than me you know, I, I didn’t qualify till late because I had other probably ADHD, possibly some dyslexia type stuff and Spanish immersion, so I didn’t read in English well enough until fifth grade, but by the time I did, I scored so high, they put me in another program.
So, my sister saw that and like thought I was, you know, cuz I got pulled outta that school and I had a much better middle school experience than she did. She was miserable in hers. And I realized later that, that like really had an impact on her. She made a comment once about like, that’s why you’re smarter than me,
And I was like, you think I’m smarter than you? I realized like it was because that experience, but she tested in earlier so she didn’t have, you know, but her skill, like she invented a style of crochet that is like the same on both sides. And she got published by this big publisher and it’s like this gorgeous book and she’s got like this brain around designing crochet and creativity and things that like I could never do, like,
Cate: yeah. Yeah.
Different Paths to Creativity
Cate: Exactly. And that has been something that I’ve really been struggling with recently is creativity and how like, I couch creativity in my mind. Cuz one of the things that I realized, and actually one of the, one of the big reasons that I realized I am autistic is that I can’t independently create.
I can replicate, I can copy, if you show me like five things, I can be like, okay, I’ll take this piece, this piece, this piece, and this piece. But like, I cannot visualize things in my head and like, especially when it comes to, even in the, skills and the things that I love to do, like costume design, I have to have a base that I’m working from.
I have to like have seen a painting or seen a picture, but like, I can’t just be like, what if we took this fabric and this fabric and did this, that, and the other thing. And so, I would watch people, come into the costume shop and they’d be like, okay, we’re gonna build this out of some, garbage bags or whatever, and then we’re gonna put, I don’t know, applique is over it or whatever.
And I’d be like, I would never in a million, billion years think of using trash bags and appliques because that’s against the rules. The rules are you have to use fabric. You know the rules are, you have to use the right kind of fabric. And so, one of the things that I really realized is that I struggle a lot in my creativity because I have this rigidity when it comes.Quote unquote, the right way to do things.
And I think a lot of that also circles back to perfectionism and being in those gifted programs where you had to have the right answer and you had to have the right answer in the right way, otherwise it was wrong. And so, I get a little bit resentful sometimes.
Like I get a little bit like upset that I think a lot of my. Latent curiosity got kind of squashed by that. Like, well, if I don’t put the math problem in the right order, then I’m not gonna get the points, you know, but I gotta get the points because if I don’t get the points, then I don’t get an A. And then what am I worth?
You know, what’s my self-worth based in? And so, I think like figuring out ways to like honor. Just creativity and like creative problem solving like that is such a big deal for me now as an adult. So, I don’t know where I was going with that, but there you go. That’s, that’s for free.
Aurora: Well, no, I just, I hundred percent relate because I, I also can’t visualize in my head and have a hard time pulling things out of nowhere, but as soon as I have something to work with, then I can, you know, manipulate it and combine it.
Cate: Yeah, exactly.
Aurora: Make it, you know. But yeah, so I totally get that as well, that it’s like hard to pull, pull that out of nowhere when you have a hard time visualizing stuff. So yeah, that made complete sense to me.
Intensity out of control?
Aurora: So, can you tell me about a time when you felt like your intensity got particularly out of control?
Cate: Oh my God. Do you wanna hear a really funny story? Okay, so I am fa I’m literally famous on the internet. And yeah, I’m well known for my A D H D stuff, and I’m well known for my, like, sex stuff. What I am legitimately famous, what I am, what I, my, my legacy that I will leave behind on this earth is that I once decided, Okay, I’m gonna tell the story better way.
So, Charles Dickens, a Christmas Carol, written in 18 43, 1 of the most popular Christmas stories of all time. I have always believed that there is one flaw with a Christmas carol, and it is that at the end of Christmas, Carol, famously, Scrooge has a bad dream, wakes up redeemed, and as a gesture of his goodwill, he sends a.
To the Cratchits. And I have always thought that was like the dickest move in all of literature. Like, you sent them a Turkey, what are you doing? And then I started thinking, I was like, well, not only is that rude, but it’s the prize Turkey. I bet that would take forever to cook. And so, I got this idea in my head.
I was like, I wanna know how big the prize Turkey and a Christmas Carol was. And so, I googled it and there was nothing, nobody since 1843 had ever been like, Hmm, I wonder this. And so, I became that person. So, for almost a week for like, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t eat, I didn’t do anything except exhaustively research how big the Turkey was in a Christmas.
And it, it involved like going to like the London archive and like looking at like newspapers from Christmas 1843. But now, as it happens. I am the world’s foremost expert on the Turkey. In a Christmas, Carol I found out how big the prize Turkey would’ve been, but then not only that, then I was like, okay, I have the number.
I know how big it is. But now I want to know how long would it have taken to cook? How would they have cooked it? Where would they have cooked it? And so now, like, I don’t know why I am cursed with this knowledge, but I can tell you with great detail and, and it takes like two and a half. Tell the entire thing Um,
but I’ve created a timeline of a Christmas Carol. I can tell you to the minute what time stuff happens on Christmas. And I, and also like I know a weird amount about the weather and like the pressure systems that we’re moving through England at the time on Christmas day. So that’s my answer.
I’m just cursed with. This useless knowledge. But I was also the first person ever to figure that out. So, I was kind of proud about that. So that’s my answer.
Using Fire For Good!
Aurora: So, tell me a little bit about how you use your fire for good.
Cate: Oh, man. I mean, see again, we go back to that sort of like, I don’t wanna say nice things about myself, um but I mean, I think, I have turned, how do I say this in a way that makes sense? I think I started making content because I got frustrated about the content that didn’t exist.
Like I wanted to know about A D H D and sex. I wanted to understand the way that my brain sort of like interprets information. I wanted to understand fundamentally why I was the way that I was. It goes back to math, right? I want to know the why. I desperately want to know the why. I’m fascinated by the why.
And so, I started making content for that. I started making content for the people who were like me, who maybe didn’t know that A D H D can dramatically impact sexuality and libido, and you know that your hormones have a you know, very specific impact on ADHD. And so, the more that I started making this content and the more that people, I think, started sort of finding their way to my content, I kept hearing the same thing, which was, nobody has ever talked about this.
Not Feeling Alone
I thought I was the only one; I thought I was broken I thought I was weird; I thought I was crazy; I thought I was alone in this struggle. And so that it sort of just, it kept growing. It was, you know, I was like the avalanche where the snowball just kind of starts rolling down the hill. And so, I guess my answer is, I do it for that, I do it because of pure, unadulterated spite, you know?
Cate: But I do it because like, that’s what fuels me. Like that is, that’s what, what really ignites my passion and, and ignites my fire, is that I have this incredible opportunity, this incredible opportunity to have conversations about stuff that I care about. I get to talk about my special interests and you know, I have a platform now so I can force everybody to listen to my information about the Turkey in a Christmas Carol.
You know, but, but I have this opportunity to educate and advocate on my own terms and provide those resources and provide that information for people who might not otherwise find it. You know, because like the studies exist, the, the information is out there, but what I’ve learned is that a lot of people don’t know where to look.
They don’t know how to access that information. They don’t have a great grasp on that kind of stuff. And so, it’s like, well, hell, I’ll talk about it, you know? And so that is my answer, that’s why I do it, is because I just, I don’t want anybody to ever feel as alone or as broken or, you know, as much of a screw up as I felt growing up.
And I think the more that we talk about it and the more that we, we really destigmatize a lot of those conversations, I think the more good there is to be done, so.
Aurora: Hmm. Yeah. and you’re right. There is really a need for that. I remember the first time, I think it was delivered from distraction, I bought for family member and, and I read through the section on intimacy and they made a comment about how part of the challenges that we have a hard time lingering.
And I was like, that’s it. That’s my difficulty. like,
Aurora: I mean that’s part of it, but also there’s a variety of factors, so I’m excited to learn more about that with you down the road as well.
Aurora: So, what do you think has helped you the most with harnessing the power of your intensity?
Harnessing the Power of Intensity
Cate: it’s sort of a catch 22 because my answer is having a platform because I now really do, I have the honor and the privilege to do this every day. You know, to just wake up and be like, yeah, I am gonna make a 20-minute video about orgasms and A D H D or whatever the topic of the day might be.
But also, at the same time, and this is kind of like a, a, a weird sort. Maybe catch 22 is the right term. But I also think growing up with the experience of being a gifted kid, I really think that’s part of it, is that I think my, you know, my curiosity was something that I think never really got punished out of me the same way that like a lot of my, like creativity did you know, because if you’re curious, you’re gonna research harder and write a better paper, you know, so that was always kind of allowed.
And so, I think that, The experience of growing up with permission to be curious. And then, you know, going to graduate school and getting too many Master’s degrees, um, you know, but then I learned how to research. I learned how to study, I learned how to evaluate, I learned how to, like, find good sources.
I learned how to like, Synthesize information and disseminate it back in a more like accessible and approachable way. And so again, like I think it’s the culmination of sort of all of those experiences. You know, the more I was curious, the more I did, the more I did, the more I could be curious.
And now I get to be curious and excited for my real-life adult job. And that’s pretty cool, I think.
Helping Others Use Their Own Fire
Aurora: Mm-hmm. Yeah, totally. So how do you help others use their own fire?
Cate: Gosh, this is tooting my own horn a lot, but, I think that the thing that I hear the most, I mean, I lost count after about 5,000. I lost count, but I would, I’ve gotten about 5,000 plus messages from people saying that because of me, because of my content, they got an A D H D diagnosis or they realized you know, that they were neurodivergent, that kind of thing.
And so that’s a big part of it for me is that I don’t necessarily consider myself like an expert, right? I, I never pretend to be like, I know a lot, I know a lot about a very niche sort of topic, but a lot of it is, I’m just kind of like, Hey, let’s just, I’m just gonna talk about my own experience and I’m just gonna talk about like what’s going on with me in my life.
And maybe you relate, maybe you don’t. That’s okay. But I think having, again, like, I know I keep saying honor and privilege, but it really is, but having just the ability to. Educate people and say, Hey, A D H D doesn’t just look like this. It can also look like this. Autism doesn’t have to look like this.
It can also look like this. I think allowing people the opportunity to learn more about their own brains, learn more about themselves; I think that encourages and fosters self-acceptance. I think it encourages and fosters understanding and self-compassion. And I think out of those things out of forgiveness, out of compassion, out of realizing that you’re not alone and you’re not broken and you’re not a screw up comes the ability to harness your fire comes the ability to say, Hey, you know what?
Like I, my brain isn’t built like other people’s and that’s okay. I’m still deeply curious and creative and interesting and passionate and that’s awesome. And so that’s maybe my answer is that people always complain. It’s so funny. They always are like, well, it’s great that I know this thing, but what do I do about it?
And my answer is always the same. It’s like, well, that’s up to you because what works for me might not work for you. I can give you the information, I can tell you information all day, but I can’t build a system for you that will help you get your laundry done, because I’m gonna do my laundry different than you.
So, the more that you, you learn about yourself, the more that you understand about this yourself, the more that you are able to. Just fundamentally accept that you’re not broken and you’re not alone, the easier it’s gonna be for you to develop those systems and those strategies that allow you to support that fire and support that passion. And I think that’s really cool.
Where to Find Cate
Aurora: Mm-hmm. totally awesome. So, is there anything else you would like to share with the Embracing Intensity audience?
Cate: Oh, probably, but I can’t think of anything.
Aurora: So, we’re, we’re still working on, on our schedule for upcoming talks, so I’d love to have you on the.
Cate: Oh yeah, that would be great. Well, here, I’ll, I’ll use this as a promo. I’ll be like, I would like your audience to know where they can find me. There we go. It’ll just be shameless self-promotion.
Aurora: That’s the next question,
So where can I find you?
Cate: So, there’s a lot of places. So first and foremost, I have a podcast. It’s called Katie and Eric’s Infinite Quest an A D H D Adventure. We talk about life with A D H D and neuro divergency and depression and navigating life as neuro divergent adults. We do talk a lot.
And intimacy and that kind of stuff. We also play Dungeons and Dragons. You can find me a lot of places. If you Google Catieosaurus a lot of stuff will come up. But you can find me on TikTok. I would love for you to follow me over on YouTube cuz I’m transitioning over to YouTube for 2023. You can find me on Twitch.
I stream on Twitch weekly. You can find me on Instagram if you wanna see pictures of my dog. And if you wanna get at me about you. Doing cool stuff. You can go to catieosaurus.com. That’s got all my contact information and all of that good stuff. And that’s all that I can think of right now.
Aurora: Awesome. Oh, I’m so glad that I finally got to have you on the show. You’ve been on my list for well over a year.
Cate: Oh, hooray!
Aurora: So, yeah. So, I’m so, so glad to have had the chance to talk with you and listening to your story. One of the things I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned, but I, during the pandemic, I started doing some animated shorts of
Cate: Oh, cool!
Aurora: About twice exceptionality. And I got a little halted cuz I wanted to make a comic book and then I had to figure out about, you know, the using the characters and the rights and then I started creating my own and I spent massive amounts of time hyper-focusing on various aspects of it.
But the process per comic was pretty intensive. But I think I’m motivated to make another video and I’m excited about that. So,
that’s, that’s awesome. I’m proud of you!
And I think I’m gonna be breaking my monthly once a month rule, because I definitely wanna share this before our burnout talk.
Cate: Oh, okay. That’s, I mean, that’s fair. Also, I feel bad because I feel like a lot of people who know my content are waiting for me to make the joke, burnt-out gifted and talented submissive brat with a praise kink joke.
Aurora: Oh, yes.
Cate: So here you go. That one’s free. That’s, there you go. I said it, I said it on the podcast. There you go.
Aurora: That is one of the things that makes me laugh when I see those pop up on your,
Cate: Man, it started out as a joke and it has becoming like, it’s become like a defining characteristic of my content. And I was like,
Cate: guys, I was kidding. And I was like, now I’m like,
Aurora: not really,
Cate: 50% joking. Now I’m like, 10% joking.
Aurora: Awesome. Well thank you so much.
Cate: Yeah, thanks so much for having me.
Aurora: I look forward to sharing!